Thank you with all of our hearts,
Ronda, Jim (Ladybird, Turtle & Boomer)
Thanksgiving 2020: I should be preparing for the arrival of my child. I say child instead of son or daughter because I chose not to know. My husband and I were seated nervously in front of our embryologist in Phoenix looking at an ultrasound image of our genetically perfect embryo. Did we want to know the gender? Did I want to take home the photo of the embryo, a weird black and white cell structure? I picked it up and held it for some time; Eventually, I handed it back. Surely that was bad luck, right?
When I shut my eyes, I imagine my child to be a girl. She would have my adolescent snow-white hair and her father’s wild, untamed curls. This image of her came to me many years ago when I was dating my husband. In the vision, we were in the kitchen and she was on her tippy toes looking at him making her breakfast. I knew I was going to have a little girl.
It was the second week of a pandemic, March 25, 2020, and most of the nation was worried about their jobs, canceled trips and understanding a mystery virus. I was worried about my embryo that was to be transferred that day.
After years of fertility struggle loss & treatment, my husband and I arrived at the right spot in Phoenix, 312 miles from our home, a trip I did +20 times in 2019 alone. With the right combination of caring physician and staff, patience and a little biological luck, we had two perfect embryos from In Vitro Fertilization. Except we only had one that morning.
The night prior to my transfer (a transfer is when a doctor implants the fertilized embryo into the mother for it to grow into a baby) I had received a call that our first embryo had not survived the thaw. My husband had pulled over somewhere in the middle of Arizona, less than 24-hours from my doctor’s appointment, while we attempted to comprehend this tragedy, which only happens <5% of the time.
I put my body through hell and am known as an “IVF Warrior” in fertility-talk circles. I had been preparing my body and hopes for years to get to this point. Hormones from so many injections were pumping through my system. I was excessively emotional.
“If you don’t hear from me in the next hour, then that is good news. No news is good news,” he told us as tears rushed down my face.
That was the worst hour of my life.
As it turns out, the wait didn’t matter anyway. I had left the black and white photo of my embryo on the doctor’s desk, walked out of the room, completed my transfer, and in the weeks after, my body had rejected it.
I learned a lot about rejection in 2020.
Our insurance rejected any fertility treatment. Therefore, we used savings and eventually took out a loan because you don’t stop partway through all of this because you didn’t bank on complications. I still get two monthly reminders now, one a bill, of the baby I do not have.
The pandemic rejected us. My husband lost his job, and I was furloughed. I lost myself during these early times.
My strong will and determination rejected me. I spent a lot of time in bed. Crying. Grieving. Angry. Fighting. And above everything else, I felt lost. As an adult, we are taught that if you want something, you work very hard for it and you will eventually fulfill your dreams.
In the 5 year of my fertility struggle, I have seen so many cycles of friends: first comes love, second comes marriage, third come baby carriage after carriage. I shied away from my favorite gym because too many people were constantly announcing their pregnancies. I saw their bellies grow. I then saw their babies while they worked off their “pregnancy fat.”
I was rejected in other ways. A few near me found out about my struggle and were not supportive. A couple even questioned or grew combative, voicing their viewpoints on this or that.
Lastly, in a weird and twisted way, I found out my ex-husband, the man I didn’t want to have children with because he was always away in the military, has twins. My college love does as well.
Where to go next? For what feels like the umpteenth time, I am picking myself up. Daily. Take my shower. Make my coffee. Find my work. Keep it together.
“This is not the end. Just because you didn’t get what you wanted with IVF, do not let this stop you from your hopes and dreams,” my doctor told me recently.
At this time, I do not know how to interpret that. One day, I hope to figure it out.
- Adam Lockyer
- Alissa Kelly
- Stephanie Schonberger
- Devin Loretz
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